Bike News

Weekly Update: The streets are open; Garver Path

Happy Earth Day! This year marks the 50th anniversary of the worldwide day to celebrate environmental protection. The Nelson Institute at the UW (named after Gaylord Nelson, the Wisconsin Senator who created Earth Day) is hosting a virtual conference to mark the occasion today:

Another thing to celebrate: As of last Friday, the City has started opening up some of our city streets to people walking, rolling, and biking! By restricting motor vehicle traffic to only local traffic, people now have the space they need to maintain physical distancing. More projects, including Atwood Ave, are in the pipeline already, and the City is asking for suggestions which streets would make good additional candidates. Send your suggestions by email! Another improvement in this area is the creation of new gravel shoulders on the Cap City Trail in Law Park. Work on these is starting today (April 20) and will last about three days. Thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen! If you live outside the City of Madison and would like to convince your local officials to do something similar, consider signing the Bike Fed’s statewide petition.

And if you’re a healthcare worker, you can get a free Madison BCycle membership. With reduced Metro Service, the BCycle system is an even more important part of our transportation system, and the stations are regularly cleaned and disinfected.

Interested in reading books about biking and talking about them? Madison Bikes is hosting a virtual book club! Sign up here by April 27 and vote for which book you’d like to read. Candidates are:

Common Council Meeting

All transportation-relevant city committee meetings have been cancelled this week with the exception of the Common Council meeting on Tuesday. There are three transportation topics on the agenda: The Council will vote on the final design for the Garver Path. This new path will connect the Cap City Trail near Olbrich Gardens with Milwaukee Street — and at some point in the future maybe with a new trail to Sun Prairie. Path construction will probably take place next year.

Also on the agenda for approval is the University Ave reconstruction between Shorewood Blvd and University Bay Dr. From a bike perspective, there is little to be excited about with the project: By and large the reconstruction won’t change the character of the car-centric street: All three travel lanes will remain general travel lanes, with no bike or bus lanes. There are some improvements for people walking, i.e. a new sidewalk on the north side, a slightly widened sidewalk on the south side, and a few small improvements to the crossings. One piece of the project that could be good for people on bikes: A planned overpass of University Bay Drive, connecting the Campus Dr bike path with the Blackhawk Path. This is currently a busy at-grade crossing. Additional turn lanes from University Ave and a parking ramp that the VA Hospital is going to build will make crossing even more difficult. Therefore an overpass is proposed as part of the project (see image below). Because of space constraints (part of the land is owned by the VA), the current design includes sharp turns and a lack of good connections between the path and University Bay Dr. And even the current design isn’t guaranteed to be built as part of the current project.

The third transportation item on the agenda is the confirmation of the new Metro Transit General Manager, Justin Stuehrenberg. Stuehrenberg was heavily involved in Indianapolis’s bus network redesign and creation of their Bus Rapid Transit System. In a profile article, he cites a trip to Germany in 2007 as his inspirational moment: “Seeing cities in rural Germany with much lower density than Indianapolis operating robust transit systems struck a chord for me. I saw young kids able to navigate their cities, older adults not reliant on others, and everyone, regardless of economic status, with the ability to get to work. I knew that I wanted that for Indy.”

If you want to provide public comment to the Common Council, register here. Full meeting agenda here.

As always, you can find an overview of all bike events on our Community Bike Calendar. Email us at to add your events. And if you value our newsletter and other work, consider donating to Madison Bikes. For construction updates, check out the city’s Bike Madison page.